Boone County officials report increased positivity rate


Boone County commissioners were told the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, a gauge to measure the spread of the disease, was increasing.

BCHD Emergency Services Director Tom Ryan said Aug. 3 the county’s positivity rate was increasing, despite Witham Hospital reporting it had not admitted a COVID-19 patient in at least a week.

The BCHD reported a 6.64 percent positivity rate the week of July 12. The following  week of July 19, it reported a 6.83 percent positivity rate. Ryan said the department is waiting for results for the week of July 26.

The World Health Organization has said states should have a positivity rate of less than 5 percent for at least 14 days before lifting stay-at-home orders.

“We are looking at schools,” Ryan said. “Schools want 5 percent or lower (for there) to be everyone in the school.”

Although the positivity rate the last few weeks has been higher than 5 percent, the county’s mortality rate has declined, Ryan said, adding that continued mitigation efforts such as mask wearing and hand-washing were vital to lowering the county’s positivity rate. To date, the health department has reported 51 COVID-19 deaths in the county.

On July 27, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statewide mask mandate, requiring all Hoosiers 8 and older to wear face coverings in most public indoor settings or when they are unable to social distance outside. However, many law enforcement agencies have stated they would not enforce the mandate.

Lisa Younts, BCHD administrator and director of nursing and vital records, and Tom Santelli, one of the three Boone County commissioners, said they have received reports of county residents not adhering to the mandate. They said they have received reports of people taking off their masks in stores and after entering and in restaurants.

“We’re still in an all-volunteer situation,” Santelli said, referring to the governor’s mask mandate.

Younts said whenever the health department receives a complaint, it reaches out to the business or entity to provide more education and underscore the importance of mitigating the spread of the virus.